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MINGORA: Militants publicly hang body of opponent

December 16, 2008

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MINGORA, Dec 15 The Swat Taliban publicly hung the body of Pir Samiullah and executed his two key commanders at the Gwalerai Chowk in the restive Swat valley on Monday.

The militants exhumed the body of Pir Samiullah from his native town Charma, a hilly area, on Sunday to confirm his death. They hung it at the Gwalerai Chowk in the Matta tehsil. The body was later shifted to an unspecified place.

Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said two of Pir Samiullah's key commanders were also executed at the chowk. “Forty of the hostages were forgiven and would be freed tomorrow (Tuesday), while the fate of the rest would be decided after the Taliban Shura meeting,” he said.

Pir Samiullah and his eight followers had been killed after fierce gun battle with militants in the Swat valley on Sunday.

The fresh fighting erupted after what the Taliban called a hand grenade attack on the house of a local Taliban commander by the Pir's men.

Pir Samiullah was a staunch opponent of Taliban activities and was the first notable who had formed a tribal lashkar to flush militants out of the region.

The militants also torched the house and hujra of Pir Samiullah after occupying the Mandal Dag area. They also set on fire the houses of 15 elders of the area who were active supporters of the Pir. The search operation by the Taliban continued in Mandal Dag and its surrounding areas on Monday, sources said, adding that most of Pir's supporters had gone underground.The Taliban, they said, had now taken control of about 80 per cent of Swat and the government's writ had reduced only to Mingora and its surroundings.

Differences between the Taliban and Pir Samiullah emerged after militants made a failed attempt to kidnap the religious and spiritual figure, who had his own circle of followers and admirers in the region. Several people were killed from both sides in the clash about two months ago.

Local people said Pir Samiullah was the only potential rival of Maulana Fazlullah. The Pir had succeeded in his efforts to gather elders of the region to establish a lashkar to resist the Taliban movement.

SERVANT QUARTERS TORCHED Fifteen abandoned servant quarters of ANP leader Afzal Khan Lala were set on fire by suspected militants in Drushkhela, Matta tehsil, on Monday.Afzal Khan Lala is still residing in the volatile Swat valley despite several failed attempts on his life in the past.